Pixel Scroll 9/28/16 I Can Tick, I Can Tick ‘Cause I’m Better Than You

(1) BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU. In Victoria, Texas, a “Facebook post costs Comic Con thousands in funds”.

A Facebook comment from one of the founders of Victoria Comic Con cost the group $2,770 in city support.

After Megan Booth blasted the city of Victoria’s criteria for doling out Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to local groups and questioning the value of the city’s annual Bootfest, council members voted 5-2 at Tuesday’s meeting to reduce the group’s funding from $12,770 to $10,000 and award Children’s Discovery Museum the difference: $2,770.

Booth said she was furious after she learned the city had given Comic Con less than the $20,000 the group had requested in HOT funds for fiscal 2016-2017.

Her Facebook comment called out Bootfest for being unprofitable for the city and ridiculed the city’s $36,000 festival beer tab, said Booth.

“The city has never allocated HOT funds correctly,” said Booth. “After I learned the committee allocated funds according to actual heads in beds this year, the way it’s supposed to, I took my Facebook post down.”

But it was too late. Booth’s Facebook post had reached City Council members.

(2) UNCONVINCING EXCUSE. Following SFWA’s update on the Galaktika Magazine situation, Ann Leckie added a few choice words of her own.

Their really inadequate excuses for these thefts. Editor in chief István Burger is quoted in the SFWA statement as saying:

When I decided to revive Galaktika more than 10 years ago, I went to the leader of one of the most respected literary agencies, to ask for his advice how to get permissions for the stories we plan to publish in the magazine in the future. I had no experience at all in this respect.

Our conversation had a very friendly atmosphere, the leader of the agency was happy that such an aknowledged magazine was revived. Finally we had a verbal agreement, that – as we plan to have a serious book publishing activity as well – we can consider short stories in Galaktika sort of an advertisement in which authors are introduced to Hungarian readers, so that we could publish their novels afterwards. The money we would pay for the rights for the novels contains the price of short stories. So agencies don’t have to deal with rights of short stories for $10 which is as much work as to get the rights of a $1000 novel. During this conversation it became obvious that agencies don’t want to deal with $10-20 so I didn’t want to bother the others with similar requests. Of course in case of longer stories and novels we made contracts. I hope that it is obvious now that there were no intentional stealing at all, as we made an agreement in time for the use of stories. Now I regret that it was only a verbal agreement, but at that time we both acknowledged it.

Yeah, the fact that the verbal “agreement” wasn’t on paper means nothing. There can have been no agreement that mattered if the rights-holders of the stories concerned weren’t involved. Having a tape-recording of the conversation notarized by God Herself would change nothing. (I’m willing to believe the conversation actually happened, by the way, and that if so Mr Burger’s description of it is spun hard enough that the anonymous literary agent might only barely recognize it.)

Let me be absolutely clear about this: this excuse is utter bullshit. If Mr Burger actually believes this, he has no business trying to run a magazine.

Look, the thing about Galaktika publishing books too is completely irrelevant. My books are published in Hungary, translated into Hungarian–by Gabo, not the publisher that owns Galaktika. No story of mine in Galaktika was ever going to be an advertisement for a translation of my books. If I’d wanted an advertisement I would have bought an ad.

And I’ve been asked several times–sometimes personally, sometimes through my agent–for permission to translate short stories. Sometimes specifically in order to promote the translated editions of my novels! My agent is not too busy to deal with such things, and neither am I. And besides, let’s say I and/or my agent didn’t want to deal with such a small transaction? Well, tough cookies. That doesn’t mean you just get to take what you want anyway.

(3) SFWA IN TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo, after giving credit to SFWA’s Griefcom for its work on the Galaktika issue, told some of the ideas that are part of her international vision for the organization.

Will Galaktika shape up? It remains to be seen. I hope so, and SFWA will revisit the matter in three months to follow-up and let folks know what Galaktika has done in the interim.

Is this actually a matter that SFWA should concern itself with? Absolutely. Recently it’s been underscored for me that people perceive SFWA as an American entity, but the truth is that we have a substantial international contingent. Worldcon in Finland poses a chance to spread that message, and so here’s a few things that I’m doing.

  • SFWA members scanning the most recent copy of the Singularity, SFWA’s bi-monthly e-newsletter for members, to find volunteer opportunities, will have noticed that I have a call out for translators. My plan is to get the SFWA membership requirements and questionnaire translated into as many languages as possible; I have commitments for Chinese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Klingon, Russian, and Spanish versions and am pursuing others. If you’re interested in helping with that effort, please let me know.
  • At the suggestion of Crystal Huff, I’m thinking about programming that might spread the message, such as a panel on the internationalization of SFWA. Such a panel would work for many conventions, I would think, but debuting it in Finland seems like a great idea (although we might sneak peek it at the Nebulas next May in Pittsburgh.)
  • I’m mulling over what form something connecting translators and F&SF writers might look like. Translating fiction requires not just ability with the language, but a writerly sensibility, an understanding of how to make the sentences fluid and compelling and three dimensional. So maybe something where potential translators could submit a listing of translation credits along with sample of their own work, translated into the languages they’re adept in, backed up with the ability for SFWA members to post testimonials. This seems like something the field needs; if anyone’s aware of existing efforts along these lines, please let me know?
  • Maybe it’s time for a new version of The SFWA European Hall of Fame, this time The SFWA International Hall of Fame. That seems like something for me to discuss with our Kickstarter contact. She and I have been discussing a 2018 project, reviving the Architects of Wonders anthology, but this might make a good interim effort. (Speaking of Kickstarter, SFWA partners with over three dozen institutions and companies, including Amazon, Kickstarter, and Kobo to make sure member concerns and suggestions are passed along as well as new opportunities created. If you’d like to be on the Partnership committee handling these monthly check-ins, drop our volunteer wrangler Derek a line at volunteer@sfwa.org.)

(4) THE VALUE OF SILVER. Dan Wells is ecstatic that a film based on his work won a medal at a European film festival — I Am Not A Serial Killer” Won A Really Big Award”

So over the weekend I announced that I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER had one the Silver Melies award at the Strasbourg film festival, which I and many of you thought was awesome, but it turns out that I was grossly underestimating it’s actual awesomeness. The Olympics have trained me to think of Silver as second place, but looking into the award I have learned the truth: the Silver Melies is Strasbourg’s top prize for international films. The top prize. First place. That’s a big honkin’ deal.

(5) THE PROOF. Jim C. Hines is “Searching For Revisionary Goofs”. I was thinking this was going to be a political analysis, but what it really means he’s proofing another edition of his novel Revisionary.

The mass market paperback edition of Revisionary comes out in February. This means I have a whole new set of page proofs to review.

If you’ve read the hardcover (thank you!) and noticed any typos or other problems, now would be the perfect time to let me know so we can get those fixed for the paperback release. You can comment here or shoot me an email at jchines -at- sff.net.

(6) WEINBERG SERVICES SET. Thanks to Steven H Silver for the information:

The memorial service for Bob Weinberg will be held on October 15 from noon to 5:00 at:

Orland Park Civic Center
14750 S. Ravinia Avenue
Orland Park, IL. 60462
708 403 6200

(7) STERN OBIT. Lucy Stern, a LASFS member since 1988, passed away September 28, of cancer. Her husband, Mike Stern, announced on Facebook:

Lucy has died. She stopped breathing sometime around 2am. I am devastated. I loved her for forty-nine years, and I will never be able to see fifty, although I will still be loving her then.

The Stern family, including daughters Alison and Heather, has been one of the most important parts of LASFS for decades. I’m very saddened by the news.

(8) BOOK REVIEW BLOGS. Netgalley’s “Blogger Spotlight” today visits with Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings.

Let’s start with your origin story – how long have you been blogging about Sci-Fi & Fantasy books, and why did you start?

I started the blog in 2010, so six years, time flies! It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I started blogging about sci-fi and fantasy books because I wanted to try out blogging in general and realized that books were the thing that I would never get tired of! It’s worked so far I guess :).

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

I try to switch between subgenres every book so that I don’t get bored with any one. I’ve found that my preferences don’t align with elements special to any particular subgenre, but more what makes books excellent no matter their subject: strong voice, unique world, beautiful writing, etc. In all subgenres though I’m seeing a trend of authors working hard to bring in mythology from places other than Western Europe and I love that. Since I tend to be more interested in new-to-me magic and monsters and worlds, stories that pull in myths I’m not familiar with are exactly what I’m looking for.

(9) JEMISIN INTERVIEW. Fans of The Fifth Season should enjoy Chris Urie’s interview with N. K. Jemisin in Clarkesworld.

A few of your short stories have featured New York City. What is it about the city that keeps you curious and writing about it?

I love New York! New York for me was the place where I came to be an artist. I grew up in a lot of different places but mostly between Mobile, Alabama and Brooklyn.

I remember being told that I should go outside and play. I remember the passive-aggressive things that people who don’t get artists tend to say to them because they don’t understand that sitting in one place and just writing or reading a book is a good thing. When I came here, I was free to write as much as I wanted, free to talk with other people about my plots and the ideas that were driving me nuts at night. During the school year, I had to lie awake and sort of chew on them and try to sleep. I was sort of a childhood insomniac. Here, I could talk it out and I slept like a baby.

New York was also where I could be a nerd. My father is a nerd too and we would watch Star Trek and the Twilight Zone ‘till the wee hours of the morning and talk about them and post-process every episode. That was the thing that made me love New York.

New York is the place where souls can be free. So, naturally, when I’ve come back here as an adult I want to understand what it is about this city that makes it so unique. What it is that brings that feeling out. It was a kind of magic and I want to try and capture that magic.

(10) A NEW STANDARD. Aaron argues that “Stopping Harassment After the Fact Just Isn’t Good Enough” at Dreaming of Other Worlds.

Right now, there is no real way to document patterns of bad behavior on the part of convention attendees. Conventions simply must get better at documenting and sharing information about instances of harassment. There needs to be some way to keep track of who has been ejected from a convention, and for what reason. Other conventions have to be able to look at these records and decide whether to issue a badge to individuals with a propensity to cause trouble. Conventions must be willing to preemptively ban serial harassers and bad actors. Had ConCarolinas documented the harassment that took place at their event and made it available to other conventions, and WisCon documented the harassment that took place at their event and made that available to other conventions, then this pair would not have been able to fly under the radar the way they did and turn up at MidAmeriCon II without anyone there being aware of their history. Had such a system already been in place, the people who harassed Alyssa Wong at MidAmeriCon II might not have even been there to harass her in the first place.

(11) QUESTION TIME. Author Confidential, an upcoming fundraiser for the Bacon Free Library, lets people bid on the opportunity to ask an author questions.

Bid to ask any of these award winning, best-selling, beloved, classic authors three (3) questions! If you win, the author will send you a letter with the responses! Yes, an honest to goodness letter which you can cherish forever

Only a few genre writers are on the list, like Diana Gabaldon, Gail Carriger, and Piers Anthony, but a large number of best-selling authors are participating, including Lee Child and Alexander McCall Smith.

When: Sunday, October 23, 2016 8pm – Sunday, October 30, 2016 8pm Where: Ebay links and feed will be open on Sunday, Oct. 23rd at 8pm

(12) WELL, THEY HAVE SAND IN COMMON. On A. V. Club, Ignatiy Vishmevetsky’s “The Eraserhead baby from space” analyzes David Lynch’s Dune, and explains what a strange and wonderful film it is.  The big news was that Lynch was offered Return of the Jedi but turned it down.

There’s a good reason to bring up Star Wars here, as Lynch had passed on the chance to direct Return Of The Jedi before accepting an offer from Italian super-producer Dino De Laurentiis to write and direct Dune. (Several attempts had been made before, including one by Alejandro Jodorowsky that’s been much mythologized, despite sounding unfilmable.) By his own admission, Lynch had no interest in sci-fi, and neither, in a sense, does Dune. It has a lot more in common with its writer-director’s most admired work than it’s generally given credit for, from the ominous, rumbling soundscapes to the first appearances of future Lynch favorites MacLachlan and Everett McGill (as a Fremen leader), as well as Blue Velvet’s Dean Stockwell (as the Atreides’ court physician, forced to betray them under tragic circumstances). There are echoes: the mutated space-farer who travels in a train-car-sized tank of melange gas resembles the baby from Eraserhead grown to gigantic size; a tray of flowers brings to mind the opening of Blue Velvet; and so on and so forth. Dune, in other words, is not so much Lynch’s big-budget dead end as a transitional artwork that eludes most of the expectations that come with being a big-budget sci-fi movie.

(13) IF PATRICK MCGOOHAN BLOGGED. Soon Lee invites you to sing along to this excellent filk left in a comment.

SECRET FILER FAN

(Dedicated to OGH, and with apologies to Johnny Rivers)

There’s a fan who runs a file of genre
To everyone he meets he is no stranger
With every scroll he makes, another pixel he takes
What odds ::ticky:: brings comments by email?

Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number (five!), you’ve appertained your drinks

Beware the rabid puppies in the links
Excerpting news and S-F-F hijinks
Ah, be careful what you write
They’ll find their way to this site
Damned or praise you with words your own self typed

Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number (five!), you’ve appertained your drinks
Secret Filer Fan, Secret Filer Fan
He’s given you a number, you’ve appertained your drinks

SFWA INFOGRAPHIC. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American point out ways they are helping their members.

[Thanks to Lace, Dave Doering, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Junego.]

144 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/28/16 I Can Tick, I Can Tick ‘Cause I’m Better Than You

  1. 10) We had a very similar problem with “serial cheaters” at paintball tournaments. Many, many different tournament circuits and little to no communication between them (mostly active hostility actually). A player or team would get ejected/banned from one circuit and say “screw you”, then take their BS over to another circuit.

    Much of that activity was curtailed when I began including a list of infractions and penalties along with the published reporting on the games – even added a box to the “box scores” for penalty points incurred.

    While invocation of a suit for libel against the publication is always possible, the fact that the reporting relied on game score sheets, score boards and other factual product produced by the events themselves largely mitigated against that and would provide a defense if needed.

    I would not be reluctant, at all, to include reporting on bans, sanctions, expulsions and other similar actions by a convention, provided that they could be verified.

    Reporting on the activity of a convention is entirely legitimate; reporting the facts (so and so was expelled for a violation of the code of conduct) is not making a judgment call on any of the parties involved, it is merely reporting what happened.

    The only downside I see to the above are threats of lawsuits for libel – so long as the reporting doesn’t extend into speculation.

    I’d do due diligence – fact check, multiple sources and contact both “sides”; I would also tend towards keeping the name of the victimized out of such reporting, as that is/ought to be handled at the convention level.

  2. The more I think on it, the more I think the libel issue boils down to more the threat of litigation than the risk of actual legal consequences. Which provides an interesting segue into Hampus’ examples form the (often highly) parallel world of BDSM.

    Person A was in an abusive relationship with Person B. Person A leaves and starts talking about it. Person B starts threatening libel action, with the implicit threat that their defense will be that Person A consented to [style of BDSM that will seriously squick the general population]. In other words, “shut up or I air the dirty laundry in a public forum.”(*) I can see plenty of concoms shying away from a similar situation, as the first person to find out their on the list decides one of the people still there should be there too.

    Back to Arron’s idea directly. Or of course, how trustworthy is the person keeping the database? We’ve had plenty of conversations here about broken stairs, and a common feature is friends in high places knowing “oh, they aren’t that bad.” And bluntly, the speed with which people who are normally very aware of and vocal about the necessity of keeping a convention welcoming and safe will rally around a good friend who’s managed to make a lot of people feel the convention is neither of those things will blow your mind.

    But on the other hand, Arron’s right. Fandom is a group with a strong identity that’s very much in-group, out-group towards the rest of society. We pride ourselves on taking care of our own, while thinking we’re brighter and more moral than the rest of society. We have to be more aware of predators in our midst because what I just described is the textbook situation where abusers can flourish, playing on the loyalties of the group and individuals to conceal their abuse.

    (*) Also with the knowledge that Person C and Person D will wave off Person A’s allegations as “oh, that’s just a little sub wanting attention, don’t take it seriously”, but I digress.

  3. I would also tend towards keeping the name of the victimized out of such reporting, as that is/ought to be handled at the convention level.

    I would agree. There is only a marginal interest in reporting that information, and it is far outweighed by other considerations.

  4. 10) For a system like this to work properly, you’d need several things. For starters, you’d need a consistent definition of harassment that every con could agree on, and a similarly consistent set of responses to harassment cases, and also consistent enforcement. (Because any inconsistency could be perceived as unfairness.)

    You’d need a robust procedure for appeals and reviews, to prevent the system being abused by malicious false reporters (and there are plenty of bad actors and miscellaneous drama-llamas out there who would do precisely that), or to review cases of non-malicious human error. (Thought example: I go to a convention where John C. NoRelation is also present and conducts himself with less than his usual tolerance, good humour and general bonhomie. On the last day, a complaint is made about “that fat pompous Wright guy”, and an overworked concom member reads that description and identifies me. Under normal circumstances, I would roll my eyes and shrug it off, but if it’s going on my Fandom Permanent Record and will follow me from con to con, then hell yes, I want this sorted out.) (Thought example only, of course. There is very little chance of me getting to any cons, and I have no reason to believe ol’ NoRelation would ever misbehave himself at one, even if I did.)

    You will absolutely need to consider the legal implications, in terms of both defamation and data protection.

    Now, I don’t think any of these are insurmountable problems… and maybe it’s worth taking the trouble to surmount them… but let’s not kid ourselves about how much time and effort would be involved, here.

  5. Or of course, how trustworthy is the person keeping the database? We’ve had plenty of conversations here about broken stairs, and a common feature is friends in high places knowing “oh, they aren’t that bad.

    Trustworthiness is an issue in every conversation about harassment (or even every conversation about conventions in general). Who is running the convention incident report committee? Are they trustworthy? Who is on the team staff? Are they trustworthy? Right now, there’s no real way to keep track of that either, since pretty much all the “trustworthy” assessments are done by word of mouth and personal association. “I trust Bob because I know him”, rather than “I trust Bob because he has a demonstrated track record of competently responding to reported incidents”.

    Organizing and tracking the data could go a long way to dampening the problem of people ignoring bad behavior. If a person has a documented track record, it is much harder to claim “they aren’t that bad”. Any system can be abused, but a system in which no documentation is retained is much easier to abuse than one in which they are.

  6. For starters, you’d need a consistent definition of harassment that every con could agree on, and a similarly consistent set of responses to harassment cases, and also consistent enforcement. (Because any inconsistency could be perceived as unfairness.)

    Those would be beneficial, yes. I don’t think they are completely necessary, because that information can be reported too. What a convention’s policy is and how it is enforced can also be tracked. If a convention gets a reputation for lax enforcement, or for overzealous prosecution, then that can be accounted for by other conventions.

    You’d need a robust procedure for appeals and reviews, to prevent the system being abused by malicious false reporters (and there are plenty of bad actors and miscellaneous drama-llamas out there who would do precisely that)

    We really don’t know how many malicious false reporters there might be, because there is no way to track that right now.

    or to review cases of non-malicious human error.

    We don’t know how prevalent that might be right now, because, once again, there is currently no way to track that.

  7. From ico.org.uk:

    Sensitive personal data means personal data consisting of information as to –

    (a) the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,

    (b) his political opinions,

    (c ) his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,

    (d) whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),

    (e) his physical or mental health or condition,

    (f) his sexual life,

    (g) the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or

    (h) any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.

    I’m pretty sure that makes any such data subject to export controls. This is thorny stuff and the EU is particularly been unhappy with the US’s handling of EU data.

    https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/principle-8-international/#authorities-outside-uk

    ETA: Brexit may affect this of course, but if we want to continue handling EU data we’ll have to abide by the rules too.

  8. @IanP: Do (g) and (h) refer to a criminal (or civil) offense, or just anything someone says he might have done regardless of its legal status? Harassment at conventions only rarely rises to criminality, but is rather just a violation of the private code of conduct of the event.

    One note to make is that if participation in such information sharing is voluntary, then a European convention that is worried about data protection could simply not participate. I think that would be unfortunate if they were unable to, but that’s not a barrier to non-European conventions doing so.

  9. Aaron’s idea is interesting. Here are a couple of examples where the situation would be clear cut.
    1] Was the individual tossed from the Con? Was a police report filed? Was an arrest made? – this shows a high level of seriousness.

    2] Same as #1 above but there is a conviction.
    No brainer and easy to do. No libel issues at all as long as the information is accurate.

    The problem is when an accusation is made, the accused has no reasonable recourse, and they are banned from a particular Con. Then their name is placed on the “MasterCon” list and the accused cannot attend other cons. In this case, the accused can bring a viable suit against the original Con and other Con’s that refused entry.

    Running a Con is a lot of work and stress under normal circumstances. If you add in keeping a Master List you are running into a much bigger problem of Libel and Defamation. This makes the Con officers even more reluctant to do this and may make Con officers more reluctant to police individual bad actors.

    Aaron – the ABA example does not work that well. If you have someone in a trade association who violates the internal rules of the trade association (where they go beyond the law) – the only recourse the trade association has is to kick them out. If no laws were broken, then removing the person from the ABA is the only sanction.

    But Cons are not a single organization ascribing to a same set of standards. There are lots of different American Bar Association chapters, but if they all ascribe to the same code then they act in unison.

    Last – is there a serious problem of bad actors doing bad things across multiple cons? Other than one or two instances, I’m unaware of a serious problem. Can anyone provide information?

  10. @Aaron @Hampus

    France’s laws, like Sweden’s, does not require a libel to be false to be declared defamatory. I expect a lot of European countries to be in the same situation.

    But I think we are treading on very slippery ground here, and the legal aspects are a symptom of that, more then just an annoying petty fact to deal with.

  11. (10) @Aaron:

    In any event, I’m not sure how people are getting “effectively public”. I certainly didn’t say “make a public database to name and shame people”.

    OK, this is a really important point here.

    Are you assuming this data will remain semi-private, as in, available exclusively to the relevant staff among the convention organizers?

    If you’re in agreement that a public database, allowing naming-and-shaming, would be a bad thing,
    But also you’re seeing this resource as being available to a huge range of convention volunteers across the U.S. or across the world,
    How do you keep the resource from being leaked, and becoming public?

  12. @Aaron

    I think it would certainly count as personal data, as it it is uniquely identifiable (wouldn’t be much point otherwise) eg:

    Example

    A manager’s assessment or opinion of an employee’s performance during their initial probationary period will, if held as data, be personal data about that individual. Similarly, if a manager notes that an employee must do remedial training, that note will, if held as data, be personal data.

    ICO is probably a good resource here as the UK law is obviously compliant with EU law (for now anyway) and in English (no offense intended @Hampus)

    https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/key-definitions/

    ETA: I think it could be argued that it is sensitive as it is effectively an (unproven) allegation. You might argue otherwise but this is criminal law with fines aplenty if you get it wrong.

  13. Aaron:

    “Do (g) and (h) refer to a criminal (or civil) offense, or just anything someone says he might have done regardless of its legal status? “

    Anything. The keyword is that the information is regarded as “sensitive” and could have an impact on the registered persons if it became public.

  14. airboy:

    “2] Same as #1 above but there is a conviction.
    No brainer and easy to do. No libel issues at all as long as the information is accurate.”

    Still libel issues, at least according to swedish law (and I think european law too). These are:

    *) For how long the data is going to be in use.
    *) If the use of the data is changed over time.

  15. Then their name is placed on the “MasterCon” list and the accused cannot attend other cons. In this case, the accused can bring a viable suit against the original Con and other Con’s that refused entry.

    Unlikely. What do you think would be the basis for the suit? If the documentation is true, libel won’t work in any U.S. jurisdiction. Saying things about you that you don’t like is not libel in the U.S. It may be in some places Europe, ad if so, they can decline to participate, but that doesn’t make it an issue outside of those countries.

    the ABA example does not work that well. If you have someone in a trade association who violates the internal rules of the trade association (where they go beyond the law) – the only recourse the trade association has is to kick them out.

    What do you think a convention would be doing? Someone kicked out of a convention violated the internal rules of the convention. Other conventions may follow suit. I’m not seeing the big distinction you are trying to draw here.

  16. Aaron, I’m curious; have you ever been involved in conrunning? I only ask because a number of conrunners in this thread have expressed general support for your idea, but specific concerns which you dismiss.

    I’m not trying to be confrontational here, but if someone who does the job says “it’s an interesting idea, but it’s actually not that easy”, it seems only fair to ask if you’ve done the job yourself and are speaking from experience, or blue-skying.

  17. How do you keep the resource from being leaked, and becoming public?

    Every convention has records of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have registered for the convention over the years. In many cases, they have credit card information for many of these people. How do they keep that data from being leaked and becoming public? Conventions already handle large amounts of sensitive information without spilling the data all over the place on a regular basis.

  18. @Aaron:

    1. They don’t share that information with literally any convention that requests it.
    2. Credit card information isn’t emotionally charged.

  19. I’m curious; have you ever been involved in conrunning?

    Yes.

    I’m not trying to be confrontational here, but if someone who does the job says “it’s an interesting idea, but it’s actually not that easy”

    I didn’t say it would be easy. I said the problems are not insurmountable. Some of the problems are real issues and will take effort to deal with, but others seem to just be smokescreens thrown up to justify doing nothing.

    Despite convention efforts to respond to harassment, it remains a problem, and the problem stems from a lack of information. This problem drives people away from conventions. This is a problem that should be solved, even if it takes time and effort to do so.

    Ten or fifteen years ago, people made many of the same arguments against dealing with harassment at all. Someone like Scalzi had to stand up and say “I won’t go to a convention without a harassment policy” and get others to sign on to the idea in order to break the logjam of opposition. Establishing and enforcing such policies presented a set of legal and logistical concerns as well, but they were capable of being overcome. I believe that the concerns being expressed here can also be overcome, and I think it is worth it to do so.

  20. Aaron, I’m on a concom, and I do not have access to the credit card information. Exactly two people can access it; the Registration department head and the Treasurer. I don’t think even the Chair has access to it, nor should he.

    <edit to add> thank you for verifying that you have conrunning experience. It might not be fair, but it really does make your ideas more creditable than just someone shouting at the sky with no experience in the field. <wry grin>

  21. 1. They don’t share that information with literally any convention that requests it.
    2. Credit card information isn’t emotionally charged.

    Credit card information is sensitive data that conventions are currently able to keep confidential. The fact that multiple conventions that currently have shown themselves capable of handling sensitive data would be involved doesn’t somehow make them less capable of doing so. The notion that convention staffers will suddenly start pushing sensitive data all over the place because it is “emotionally charged” seems somewhat insulting to staffers who have a fairly well-established track record of being able to keep confidential information confidential.

  22. Exactly two people can access it; the Registration department head and the Treasurer.

    So why can’t access to the data shared by other conventions concerning harassment be similarly limited to those who need to know it? I’m trying to figure out where anyone got the idea that I’m advocating that everyone who is involved with a convention should be given access to this data. Limit it to the registration department head and the incident response team head and maybe the convention chair. Is there a reason why others would need it?

  23. I think, Aaron, you’re vastly underestimating All the issues raised.

    – Sheer volunteer hours. How many conventions are there in a given year? How many incidents or complaints? How much work is it to make the database, make it accessible to the needed people but not overly hackable? How to get information to and from concoms timely? unlike credit card information, this central database is liable to be online or at minimum on computer with internet connection, as that’s the easiest way to quickly share it so widespread.

    – possible damage to reputations and careers. Consider that Mary Robinette Kowal may be on this database for her CoC violation. How to distinguish her from Serious Creeper if the creeper is on his first offense? Since one thing you said you wanted such a list to do is to prevent a second or at worst third offense. You either need enough detail of incidents to make the severity obvious, or you need to accept that some innocents will be harmed simply by association.

    – number of people with access? Concoms change yearly in many cases, even if there’s a council behind with a steadier set of members. But that probably still means 20 people per convention across North America within the first year. With volunteer turnover, that would add up quickly.

    – you’re brushing off both malice and libel too easily.

    Basically, for the sake of a possible good – preventing repeat harassment – you are asking people to commit a disproportionately large amount of work and opening people up to a potentially disproportionate amount of harm.

  24. Aaron, it’s easier to keep information confidential when two people have it, than when some forty-plus people have it. (My convention has at least forty concom members; double that if you add staff.) And then add another thirty to fifty people for every convention who requests the data. Unless the data is kept confidential to Registration and the Chair and maybe Security, which seems to hamper its effectiveness. And even there, the Chair (at our convention) turns over every two years on average; we have stable Registration and Security but that’s not a given across all conventions….

  25. @Aaron:

    It’s the sharing aspect which makes this difficult. And, as I said, I’m am dead eager to hear good solutions. 🙂

    The simplest example is this: I call you up, tell you I’m in charge of the incident response team in some convention you’ve never heard of.

    Do I get access?

  26. The idea of coordinating this is great. But coordination problems are hard.

    The primary question here isn’t “do we want coordination.” It’s “Can we coordinate this without it turning into a hellish fandom version of the No Fly List.”

  27. Yes, Aaron, you’re not getting pushback on the general idea. I think most conrunners would *love* to be able to screen out Known Bad Actors. It’s the nitty-gritty details of how to actually do it that’s the problem.

    Please don’t think I’m piling on. I *want* this to work. I just need convincing that it CAN work.

  28. – Sheer volunteer hours. How many conventions are there in a given year?

    Many. Somehow they are all able to find volunteers to do all the work they need. When people said that there needed to be harassment policies and enforcement, a lot of people argued that doing so would take up too much time and effort. When push came to shove though, there were enough people to put in the time and effort.

    How many incidents or complaints?

    No one knows. That’s part of the problem.

    How much work is it to make the database, make it accessible to the needed people but not overly hackable?

    One option would be to not make it an online database, but rather a database that you can use to create reports that are sent out via e-mail when needed.

    How to get information to and from concoms timely?

    Set it up so there are regular reports to designated people from each convention.

    – possible damage to reputations and careers. Consider that Mary Robinette Kowal may be on this database for her CoC violation. How to distinguish her from Serious Creeper if the creeper is on his first offense?

    By documenting what the complaint was for, and what actions were taken in response.

    Since one thing you said you wanted such a list to do is to prevent a second or at worst third offense. You either need enough detail of incidents to make the severity obvious, or you need to accept that some innocents will be harmed simply by association.

    Kowal isn’t an innocent here. She violated the convention policy. Sure, she did it unintentionally, possibly benignly, and cooperated afterwards, but she did violate the policy. Suppose she does it again. And again. Isn’t that something a convention would like to know? I’m not saying she would, but right now there’s no way to know.

    – number of people with access? Concoms change yearly in many cases, even if there’s a council behind with a steadier set of members. But that probably still means 20 people per convention across North America within the first year. With volunteer turnover, that would add up quickly.

    That’s true for all sensitive information currently handled by conventions. Have each participating convention put forward a set of individuals who need access to the data (say, the con chair, registration chair, and security chair) and have them agree not to share it with anyone else. If a convention violates that, then reconsider giving them access in the future.

    – you’re brushing off both malice and libel too easily.

    Libel isn’t going to be an issue in the U.S. In European jurisdictions, it might be, but that’s a bridge we can cross later if need be.

    If one goes by statistics for false crime reporting, malice is probably not going to be as big an issue as people think. The rates of false reporting of crimes is consistently very low. False reports will probably fall apart pretty quickly too, at least in my limited experience. A salient point though is that because no one is tracking any of these reports, there is no way to even try to measure incidents of malicious reporting.

  29. Unless the data is kept confidential to Registration and the Chair and maybe Security, which seems to hamper its effectiveness.

    I don’t see a problem with this. Why would the general con staff need this? The registration chair would need to know to flag people who try to register who have a track record of problems. The security chair would need to know to be able to determine an appropriate response to incidents. The con chair would need to know to provide appropriate oversight and assist with evaluations. Who else would need to know?

  30. The simplest example is this: I call you up, tell you I’m in charge of the incident response team in some convention you’ve never heard of.

    What I would envision, but did not lay out specifically because I didn’t want to limit the possible options would be for conventions to work together – possibly creating something akin to a trade association. Conventions can join, possibly after being vetted by other members for some responsibility standards, and those who are in can have access to the shared data, probably on a limited need to know basis. Participating conventions would agree to only use the data for its intended purposes and not share it further, and conventions that were found to violate that would have their access limited or possibly revoked until they could demonstrate responsibility again.

    So, no. If you’re a convention no one has heard of, you don’t just get to call and have access to the data.

  31. there is another way to go: a simple list of those against whom a convention took action.

    we already have some – Frenkel, Truesdale, Moon, Walling, Breen….

    You’ll note that these are wildly different cases. The common thread is, a convention organization took some demonstrable action against the individual for what they considered, under their own rules, to be actionable.

    As it stands right now, every convention has to make up its own mind as to whether or not to accept the attendance of those individuals, put them on panels, extend honors to them, etc.

    The issue is not whether or not something “actually” happened – it did. And we all know it did because we’ve read about it online.

    An “historical” listing of those who HAVE been banned, expelled, dis-invited is nothing more than an accounting of what has already happened. All it does is collect disparate accounts and compiles them. The only rule needed would be to add addenda if/when an individual’s ban has ended (Walling was banned for “two years” initially. His entry should state “no longer banned” if/when the ban expires.)

    Again, while the hosts of such a list might be threatened with lawsuits, there’s no substance to it because it is merely a list of historical fact, that can be verified and substantiated. It’s the convention that is on the front line, not whomever hosts/compiles such a list.

    Willing to put my money where my mouth is at the Amazing Stories site (or be the host of a separate, properly named site), with the following requirements:

    information must be provided by a member of the concom – listed as such in an official con publication (who is authorized to do so by the hosting organization AND is a member of the concom with oversite responsibility)

    full name of the individual sanctioned with some kind of marginally identifying information (city and state, birth date)

    full description of the action taken by the convention

    name, date, location of the convention

  32. I think a lot of the problems go away if you restrict the list to people a con took formal action against. Yeah, you won’t get a database that’ll tell you that “Mr. Feely” has been touching people for years and always apologizing after the fact, but you can’t have everything.

    Also, if the intended use is to help future cons decide whether to expel someone (rather than deciding whether to sell him/her a ticket in the first place), then the problem of cleaning the database goes away. I just needs to be searchable by a human being in response to a complaint. “Oh, Mr. Feely was expelled from NowhereCon in 2015 for the same thing he’s accused of doing here.”

    Arrange for a group to own the copyright on the list and add words that forbid publication without permission. And talk to a real lawyer first. 🙂

  33. @Greg H. yes, that’s what I had in mind.

    Sorry for being relatively inarticulate today (as opposed to loquacious – I never apologize for that, lol) as I am up and down constantly dealing with my wife’s illness today – we had a bit of an emergency this morning and the nature of the situation is such that I have no time management going on – or rather, I’m “on call” at a moments notice. So continuity suffers.
    (Someone else should TRY to perform a website host transfer while someone else randomly whacks them on the back of the head….)

    But yes, Greg. If it starts as a list of actions already taken it should provide an impetus to figuring out how to me more pre-emptive, get some kind of system in place and will avoid much, if not all of the legal territory.

    (Email to attorneys already on the way)

  34. So some kind of historical list might be do able “X did this on Y date, received Z sanction.” Ideally, we’d want some kind of way that separates the minor mistakes from the active predators. Perhaps an indicator of whether it was a bad behavior towards the rules in general (MRK’s pant booze at MAC II) or a violation of the rules that contained an act of aggression against another (Chainmail Guy for example)?

  35. Interesting conversation and in my opinion one that needs to be had.

    On a technical note, I attend between 5 to 12 conventions every year, hear in the US.

    Cassy B wrote:
    “Aaron, I’m on a concom, and I do not have access to the credit card information. Exactly two people can access it; the Registration department head and the Treasurer. I don’t think even the Chair has access to it, nor should he.”

    I can tell you that my experience has been that in the past 2 years I am pretty sure that I have paid for all of my memberships online using Pay Pal, Apple Pay, or some other alternative payment provider used by a convention.

    So in my case none of the conventions that I have attended are able to retain my credit card information, as they never had it. Their is now a wall between my actual credit card information, and my bank accounts that comes with these types of services. I am noticing that payment options such as this are being offered almost with everything that I am doing in my life.

    Cash at the door works as well.

    The last financial threat that conventions may possibly expose attendees to are payments for memberships with credit cards at the door with older out dated services. But in my opinion this will not be around for very long, as many conventions are also starting to use swiping services and chip card readers by these same type of payment providers.

    So, at least the threat of some convention chair or committee member running out and buying Segways for all of their department heads, in appreciation for all of their handwork, using my American Express is getting closer to zero everyday. Not that I expect that to happen mind you.

    Speaking of I am off to Archon 40. Ellen Datlow is the GOH this year, but I will continue to follow this conversation as long as it continues to be had.

  36. Aaron said:

    So, no. If you’re a convention no one has heard of, you don’t just get to call and have access to the data.

    At which point Con You’ve Never Heard Of makes a Facebook post that goes viral about how it’s being excluded from its rightful access by a cabal that doesn’t want them to be a successful competitor to existing cons, and the entire Internet piles onto the people maintaining the database.

    It’s not just about volunteer hours, it’s about finding people willing to handle the stress of being associated with something that will only ever be in the public eye when someone is upset with it.

  37. Was wondering if Eastercon had any Data Protection statement and came across this in a FAQ post regarding the future of the Con which currently like Worldcon has a new organization and committee each time:

    What’s wrong with the way things are done at the moment?

    There are a number of things that, while separately quite small, add up to a fair amount of hassle. For instance, since the tightening up of Data Protection laws, every Eastercon has had some trouble with passing on membership details to the next year’s committee. Conventions need insurance, but that has got much harder recently, since Eastercon has no credit history. Similarly, we can’t easily take internet-based payments, or even credit cards, largely because we don’t have an organisation that’s in existence for more than 2 years. Both of the upcoming Eastercons, Mancunicon and Pasgon, have had trouble setting up bank accounts because they triggered all sorts of red flags in current banking processes.

    ETA: said FAQ can be found here: https://eastercon.wordpress.com/faq/

  38. Unlikely. What do you think would be the basis for the suit? If the documentation is true, libel won’t work in any U.S. jurisdiction.

    The problem there is, there is nothing stopping somebody from filing a suit. Anybody can file a lawsuit about anything. Sure, they may not have an actual basis, and sure, it’s likely the suit would get thrown out, and yes, several jurisdictions have SLAPP laws that punish people who file nuisance lawsuits. None of that stops a completely baseless lawsuit from being filed in the first place or means that the convention won’t have to divert resources to deal with it.

    Also, as others have noted, there’s the problem that some of the harassers are old friends of people on the concom in a lot of places, which means that problems get deliberately glossed over. (I’m in Toronto, and there’s a lot of Toronto/Montreal/Ottawa crossover. I’ve seen comments here on File770 about boycotting a local con for exactly this reason.) SMOFs are just as prone to making excuses as anybody else.

    The last part means that just making this a strict list of facts is even more important. One thing about that is it means people will have to evaluate the trustworthiness about reporting from the cons as well; some may be more forgiving than others, and not necessarily for the right reasons.

    (I know the University I went to used to have a list of ‘correction factors’ for various high schools based on how they tended to grade their students.)

  39. I agree with Petrea (whose anime roundup runs today, btw): again, going back to paintball tournaments (where there really was a “cabal” in many instances, where operators and owners did sometimes use their powers for abusive purposes, where there really were scam artists using an event to pick up an unearned paycheck) – there was, at one time, the belief that hosting an event was a quick way to make a buck.
    No one wanted to exclude any legitimate event – especially new ones that appeared to be offering “more and better for less” – but this also did lead to much complaint and dissatisfaction (and even some law suits).
    This was countered, over time by – A. pioneering, muckraking paintball journalists who were more than happy to ‘out’ a scammy series (thank you very much) and B. education of the competitive paintball playing public as to what the minimum requirements for hosting an event that might stand a chance of being a decent on.
    (Briefly – far more money was at stake for these events than is on the table for a convention attendee: both have normal associated travel, hotel and meal costs for an extended weekend. The paintball tournament adds entry fee – up to several hundred dollars per player AND paintball and pressurized gas costs. A typical player would go through between 1 and 4 cases of paintballs per event at an inflated event cost of 120 to 60 per case) – not to mention the consequences of the event – advancement to other events, prizes or cash money, reputation of the team, etc, etc.)
    So, we looked at the minimal requirements needed to host an event and regularly published them: game officials could not be members of competing teams, X referees per game (depending on team size); number of playing fields, schedule of games, (how many, under what kind of contingencies); refund policies, insurance in hand, etc., etc. and strongly encouraged people to use available information to gage the potential quality of an event they were thinking of attending.
    Conventions – new or old – that want access to the database should be able to demonstrate compliance with the “set of things good conventions do”.
    A perfect example is the cancelled Chi-Fi event. Anyone with convention-running experience could have spotted that “attempt” at hosting an event as a disaster-in-the-making just by observing their public actions (as in hardly any in the run-up). A quick check with the local Chicago experienced con-running groups would have easily revealed that offers of help were roundly rejected, and not for cause, but due to the twin problems of “suspicion of fannish motives” (that kind of suspicion is an automatic downcheck IMO) and a declaration that they knew what they were doing and were going to show up everybody who ever ran a con before. Which is code for “we are so clueless, we have no clue how clueless we are”.
    So, I suggest a list of minimal “requirements” (starting with a well-articulated code of conduct) that must be met by ANY organization seeking to access the data. Others might be the past experience of the con-com (new chairman, fine; do they know enough to be working with experienced folks), queries about their negotiations with facilities (the completely unprofessional way in which Chi-Fi negotiated their hotel deal screams either “scam” or utter incompetence), etc., and have three levels of acceptance “you can have access”, “we need more info about your operation” and “your event does not meet our minimal (published) requirements. If and when you have addressed these issues, please re-apply. If you need assistance in doing so…..”

  40. At which point Con You’ve Never Heard Of makes a Facebook post that goes viral about how it’s being excluded from its rightful access by a cabal that doesn’t want them to be a successful competitor to existing cons, and the entire Internet piles onto the people maintaining the database.

    At which point it is pointed out that they can apply to join the association just like any other convention and the only thing they don’t have access to if they don’t is the data of this “secret cabal” they are so angry about.

  41. The problem there is, there is nothing stopping somebody from filing a suit.

    That’s a problem now with enforcing any kind of harassment policy.

  42. @steve davidson:

    A quick check with the local Chicago experienced con-running groups would have easily revealed that offers of help were roundly rejected, and not for cause, but due to the twin problems of “suspicion of fannish motives” (that kind of suspicion is an automatic downcheck IMO) and a declaration that they knew what they were doing and were going to show up everybody who ever ran a con before.

    Oy, I’ve seen that one happen before. And heard Mitch Marmel go on a rant about it after he offered the services of him and a number of other friends to a start-up con and getting rebuffed because ‘we can handle it’. Gee, it turns out that cons run by a micromanager tend not to last very long…

    @Aaron:

    That’s a problem now with enforcing any kind of harassment policy.

    Yes, it is. I was just pointing out that you can’t handwave that ‘truth is a defence against libel’. That may be true in and of itself, but legal threats are already enough problems to cons that are often running with relatively slim margins. Which does unfortunately lead to some Heckler’s Veto aspects.

  43. I was just pointing out that you can’t handwave that ‘truth is a defence against libel’.

    If you’re going to be paralyzed by the possibility of baseless lawsuits, then you will never do anything. The profit in bringing baseless lawsuits is seriously limited, especially lawsuits you know you are going to lose. The notion that this would put conventions more at risk for baseless lawsuits than they are now is somewhat far-fetched.

  44. Another point I haven’t seen mentioned: credit card data is retained for a legally limited period of time, and then has to be safely destroyed. A bit different from information that not only would damage a person’s reputation, but also is retained permanently.

    I suspect that Aaron is right that in some years’ time, there will be a solution that works reasonably well, and that we all take for granted. I also suspect, however, that we’re a bit earlier in that process than Aaron thinks, what with having codes of conduct at all still being more controversial than seems reasonable.

  45. Hypotheticals:

    1. You are membership chair of a Filercon. You get a membership application from one David Truesdale. You check his name against the database and get a statement “David Truesdale’s membership at Midamericon2 was revoked for violations of Code of Conduct, in that he “caused significant interference with event operations and caused excessive discomfort to others.”

    Do you process his application, or do you accept it? (note that he was not revoked for harassment, which is what Aaron is concerned about)

    1b. Same thing, but the application is from D. Truesdale, and payment is via a method that you can’t tie to a name. What do you do?

    2. You, after consulting con chairman and others, send his money back. He asks why. Do you tell him?

    3. You tell him. He says, “that wasn’t me, that was another guy named Truesdale. I get that all the time.” What do you do? How do you insure that this is the same or different Truesdale, since the database has only a name?

    4. You get an application from Mary Robinette Kowal. You query the database, and get essentially the story that she told on her blog. Do you process her application?

    5. It turns out that you let Kowal come in, and Truesdale finds out. He says, “All I did was run a panel poorly. She violated state law by serving alcohol without a license. WTF?” Did you have a policy in place so that the decisions weren’t arbitrary?

    6. You are manning the membership table at the convention. A person walks up and wants a membership, and pays with cash. How do you vet them? Do you require ID? Can you even recognize an ID from another state?

  46. Hypotheticals:

    Would it be better to make those decisions armed with relevant information, or with the kind of back-channel rumors and innuendo that are handed about now?

  47. @Bill

    Hypotheticals:

    You’re still trying to use the list to control who can buy a ticket. If you only use the list to decide how to treat complaints against individuals, then it’s a much easier problem. Heck, if you simple *ask* the person, “Are you the same S. Whiplash who was ejected from DudleyCon?” odds are excellent you’ll get a response like, “That wasn’t my fault! Those SJWs overreacted! I was going to untie her before the train arrived!”

    The best is always the enemy of the good. I think it might do some good if each Con had a list of who had been disciplined at previous cons as well as why, even if they only looked at that info when trying to decide whether to discipline particular individuals. Other, grander, uses of the data might be possible someday, but this seems to be the best result for the least effort and risk.

  48. Wooo! Go offline for a day & come back to a Pixel Scroll achievement!

    (12) WELL, THEY HAVE SAND IN COMMON.
    The Dune movie was a hot mess*, though bits of it I really liked.

    *The opening credits featured Fremen marching across the sand-dunes in lockstep. I wanted to scream “The Sandworms will get you!”.

    Kip W on September 28, 2016 at 8:55 pm said:
    We can tick if we want to,
    Put our names down on the roll.
    All our friends can tick, ’cause if they don’t tick
    Then they can’t pixel scroll.

    Earwormed!

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